What is Sand Sculpture?

If we put it simply, sand sculpture is a special sculpting product made only by using sand and water. The simplest examples of it are the castles made of sand by children playing on the beach. Of course the castles made of sand are much simpler compared to the complex works of art. Nevertheless it can be said that they are still artistic products since they involve a certain design and creativity elements. But still the sand sculptors’ works are a little more complex and hard. And this hardness makes the sand sculpture art differ from the traditional art of sculpture. Sand sculpture can be the animation of an architectural object or form, or of an anatomical figure or of any kinds of objects. With the condition of using appropriate sand and of applying the proper technique, you can give the sand any shape you want. The art of sand sculpture is an art form which had been first applied by Egyptians in BC 4000.

Are the sculptures made only by using sand and water?

Yes. And except these, you never need any other materials.

Is it possible to use every type of sand?

No. It is usually thought that the sand does not differ in kind, and it is entirely the same. But it is not true. There are different types of sand, and moreover this difference shows a great diversity. We can easily say that there are much more sand types than you think. And the difference of sand is the most important factor which determines the things you can do with the sand. We can even say that the applicability of the sand art is due exclusively and specially to the kind of the sand. Sand can be organic and mineral. The organic sand grains are composed of the particles of corals, molluscs and fossils. They can be found in salty waters. On the other side the mineral sand or the rock sand is composed of the small particles of minerals or rocks. And they can be found in mountainous regions like the Alps.

What kind of sand can be used?

Special type of sand is required for the sculptures which require detailed workings and have big sizes. In case that the proper sand is lack in the area wherein the festival is organized the nearest resources are to be searched for. The structures and the shapes of the sand grains should be analyzed for deciding whether the sand to be used is appropriate for making the sculptures.

The structure of sand grains: square or round?

It is the structure of the sand used which after all determines the form of the sculpture it eventually takes. Special sand should be used for making sculptures higher than one meter. The size and the structure of the sand grains have great importance for this reason. Grains should have not round but square shapes. This kind of sand grains looks like dices.

Sculpture’s Sand: square shaped sand grains with different sizes

The sand on the beaches is usually composed of round shaped grains; it is due to movement of waves and streams. That is the most inappropriate type of sand to be processed in making sand sculptures. The best sand is angular or has a cornered appearance and its surface is relatively smooth and straight. The ideal sand for making sculptures can be found in riverside and it comes from the mountains by flows. These are the mineral sand grains and they are in different sizes and look like dices. They are angular and fit together easily.

Can you give any shape you want to sculptures?

You can give any shape you want to the sand and make the sculpture of anything you want, given that the right sand is to be used and experienced sculptors to be in charge. When designing a sand sculpture we take into account what is demanding, but the gravity is also an important factor which determines the applicability of sculptures. In the making process one of the most important factors is the supporting and grounding of sculpture safely.

Basic Principle

The techniques which are used in making a sand sculpture do not differ very much from the ones used in traditional sculpting. They are simple and can be easily learned by anyone who wants. Whether you build a huge sculpture at a height of 16 meters or a relatively small one not bigger than 1 meter in size the same principle is in action in both cases. And the same processes are to be applied in the same sequence. The principles of making a sand sculpture are as follows:

A hardened block of sand is obtained from the soft sand. This will be done by compressing several times in layers, and roughly shaping, the moisturized sand. In this process various sizeable moulds are used. The sand is compressed and shaped with different moulds until the proper size and height is to be obtained.

The next step will be the forming of the sand which is in hardened blocks. Generally speaking, it can be said that the sand will be formed by cutting. This process is always done from top to end.

Where can sand sculptures be built?

In fact sand sculptures can be built anywhere. However you have a certain capability and qualification and the required technical equipment in order to build sculptures in outdoor areas open to public. The soundness and safeness of the ground are also important factors even in indoor places. Furthermore the quality of the roads is also important with regard to the transportation of the sand into the area where the sculptures are to be built in. Among the points which should be taken into consideration we can count the electrical installations, connection of water installation and keeping the water pressure at a certain level.

How long can sand sculptures endure in outdoors?

When made in outdoors a sand sculpture can maintain its form for months. Up to now the most endured sand sculpture maintaining its form entirely is a sculpture made by a sculptor who is from Holland and it took its form for one year and nine months. This sculpture was made in Madurodam and it existed even in winter. Another sculpture made in California holds another record by enduring for two years. This means that if the sculptures are made in indoor spaces they can maintain their forms for years unless we do not touch them.

Should the moisture be maintained to a certain level after the sculptures are built entirely?

No it is not necessary. Nevertheless the moisture should be kept to a certain extent while working process of the sculptures is still being carried. When it is finished maintaining of moisture at a certain level is not necessarily required. That is why the sand sculptors use spraying a special solution. These are natural products and dried out completely and hardened when the sculpture is finished. When the sand is compressed in this way it does not and can not fall apart.

Moreover a thin layer should be obtained for protecting the sculptures against the negative weather conditions. It is provided by use of a special natural solution composed of albumin liquid. It is entirely biodegradable and ecologic. Sculptures should be sprayed by this solution.

What happens in bad weather conditions like rain? Is there any harm to sculptures?

Rain does not harm sculptures seriously. In such a case sand will absorb the rain water and after the rain is over absorbed water will vaporize. In case of heavy rain there will arise a structural transformation or deformation in the horizontal surfaces of sculptures because of the striking of rain drops. The form given to sand may be deformed in these areas but after the rain is finished these partially deformed points can be re-formed or corrected easily.

Does the strong wind or storm give serious harm to sculptures?

Wind has no negative effect upon sand sculptures. Since the sand is compressed to be hardened enough wind will not be able to destroy this structure of the sand. A sand sculpture can easily endure to a 7 force of wind. A special protein solution will be applied to sculptures built in outdoor conditions.

How is the coloured sand obtained? Is it organic?

Sand is entirely natural as a material, and it is precisely what gives its beauty. Sand sculptors use special effects of light and shadow in order to obtain colour. Nevertheless some coloured sands such as gravel and white sand provide natural effects of colour. At night highly special effects are to be created by means of torches, candles and special electrical coloured light equipments.

How long does it take to make a sand sculpture?

It depends on the pattern desired to be given, that is the design of the sculpture, and on the working condition of the area. For instance it takes half a day to make a sand sculpture of a logo. However this duration will reach to seven days in big sized sculptures. The making period will increase as the size and the details of a sculpture increase.

What kinds of equipments are used?

Ships, trucks, excavators, tractors, cranes and mechanical scoops are used for transporting the sand to the working area. Sand in its natural state should first be put into wooden moulds and compressed. These moulds are in different sizes and shapes and usually composed of wooden bins with its both ends open. Sand will be compressed by use of mechanical vibrating plates, hand rammers and etc. Then the moulded and compressed sand should be cut and formed through carving. For this tools like spatula and trowel are used. Final strokes should be given by using brushes and straws.

Do the sculptors mind when their sculptures are destroyed in the end?

No. We transform the sculptures into sand again with great respect. The most important difference between an ordinary sculpture and a sand sculpture lies entirely in the destruction process. Owing to their structures sand sculptures are ephemeral. Person who makes sand sculptures well know that his/her works of art have a temporary life and structure. Even if the sculptors know that their works of creativity and the image produced are temporal but they also know that their works will live and last eternally as an unforgettable and unique memory in the memories of the visitors. That is what makes this art unique and magnificent. Perhaps the object created is temporary but its memory lasts forever and with it is this aspect that makes it a door opening to eternity. There waits a new sand sculpture to be created by the artist. It is what keeps his/her desire alive.